Beetle byte (20 December 2013 edition)

Thanks, today, for the shout out from Terry McGlynn. He also posts a ton of great weekend reading links (and is typically more punctual than I am) at Small Pond Science.

Without further ado, here are my weekly half-dozen picks:

We don’t know enough about earwigs

But what the PhD student found particularly surprising was the fact that a “fine sort of mist” was continuously present in the air space around the earwigs.

“It’s like a cloud surrounding them and protecting them against microorganisms,” she said.


Do away with the term paper?

We don’t have to assign papers, and we should stop. We need to admit that the required-course college essay is a failure. The baccalaureate is the new high-school diploma: abjectly necessary for any decent job in the cosmos. As such, students (and their parents) view college as professional training, an unpleasant necessity en route to that all-important “piece of paper.” Today’s vocationally minded students view World Lit 101 as forced labor, an utter waste of their time that deserves neither engagement nor effort. So you know what else is a waste of time? Grading these students’ effing papers. It’s time to declare unconditional defeat.


A “green” search engine?

Ecosia is a search engine that donates 80% of its income to a tree planting program in Brazil. By searching with Ecosia you can help the environment for free!


Is it really rude to be “that guy” with the smart phone?

Last weekend in the New York Times, Sherry Turkle wrote about putting our lives “on pause” in order to tweet, text, or take a selfie: “When you get accustomed to a life of stops and starts, you get less accustomed to reflecting on where you are and what you are thinking.” A few months ago, also in the Times, Nick Bilton wrote that we’re all so busy capturing moments, we’re not living in them.

This is a false choice. You can live in the moment and capture it.


Laughed until my side ached (via Nikki Reimer)

When a phisher contacted Vancouver writer Steven Galloway to tell him he’d won a truck and $100,000 in cash, the bestselling author of The Cellist of Sarajevo decided to have a little creative fun at the scam artist’s expense. Notorious prankster Galloway teased the phisher — who was impersonating one of Galloway’s contacts — by promising to provide his Facebook password and $5,000 in cash. He recorded the exchange until the scammer eventually gave up, and then Galloway posted all 26 pages of their hilarious and absurd conversation on Facebook.


Requiem for a nest – by Wanda Coleman

following her nature she flitted and dove
for whatever blades twigs and mud
could be found under the humming blue
and created a hatchery for her spawn
not knowing all were doomed